Tag Archives: Easter 1916

Writing Poetry for The Times That Are In It (more unsolicited advice)

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Writing Poetry for The Times That Are In It

Avoid the polemic, the rant,
the bromide
be all you can be
avoid the hackneyed phrase
the weak-kneed phrase
the self-consciously poetic line
the moon, a pale orb in the evening sky
never call the moon “an orb”
never call the sun “a fiery ball”
your waves should not
crash on the shore
they should collapse
like marathon runners
avoid foliage
excessive leafiness
too many trees
the reader needs to see the poem
and remember it’s unlikely
that your poem
will be an agent of change
no one is going to march through the streets
chanting your poem
unless your poem is a three word slogan
but your poem can chronicle change
bear witness to change
and one day someone might read it
at a rally in front of a large crowd
if the lines resonate
if the lines generate heat
meanwhile concentrate on
impressing yourself
avoid lines ending in “ution”
the rest will take care of itself.

 

The prompt from Brendan over at earthweal is as follows:

“For this week’s challenge, write about the challenges you face as a poet trying to write sufficiently to the moment. What is most difficult to capture about the time? What new tools or calibrations might be required?”

The above poem is a stab at it. It’s a very interesting question, because is it possible to write sufficiently to the moment? Yeats wrote his poem “Easter 1916”, about the Irish Easter Rebellion, between May and September of 1916 but the poem wasn’t published until 1921 in the collection “Michael Robartes and the Dancer”. Undoubtedly the poem must have gone through countless revisions in the interim period and of course is a better poem because of this. If Yeats had a blog, he might have turned out something more immediate and inferior. But it’s interesting to look at how the first verse ends:

Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

The last two lines are repeated at the end of the second and the last verse, almost like a chorus. I think there lies an answer to how to write more immediate poetry, poetry of the moment – use a form that is close to that of a song, get yourself a rhyme get your self a chorus. It may not turn out like Yeats but hey you don’t have the time for that.

Here’s one from a little while back:

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Drain The Swamp Rag

(Walk that back
walk that back
I know I said it
but I walked that back.)

Attack dog surrogates
inveterate invertebrates
re-stock the swamp
with old white males.

Post logic, post truth,
snake oil and kool-aid
re-stock the swamp
with old white males.

Mike Pence, John Bolton
Rudy Giuliani
re-stock the swamp
with old white males

Inveterate surrogates
attack dog invertebrates
re-mail the stock
to the old white swamp

re-stock the swamp
with old white males.